Women Who Tech Launches HealthTech Innovation Program, Calls For Europe Startup Challenge Applications

By Amit Chowdhry ● July 1, 2019
  • Women Who Tech, a nonprofit organization that funds and showcases women-led ventures, announced it is calling for applications for the European leg of its flagship Startup Challenge program focused on healthtech

Women Who Tech, a nonprofit organization that funds and showcases women-led ventures, announced the call for applications for the European-leg of its flagship Women Startup Challenge — which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, the Office of the Mayor of Paris, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

As part of the competition, ten early-stage women-led startups with a focus on healthtech will be selected to compete for a $50,000 grant (equity-free) on October 7th at Paris City Hall, Hôtel de Ville.

The jury will be comprised of investors and health leaders like Elena Fernandez Kleinlein (Interim Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation  – JLABS EMEA), Jean-Louis Missika (Deputy Mayor of Paris), and Eamonn Carey (Managing Director of Techstars London).

“Only 9.7% percent of investor funding goes to women-led healthtech startups (according to Rock Health). Put simply, progress for funding women-led startups is moving at a glacial pace. We need to change this narrative for good,” said Women Who Tech founder Allyson Kapin. “Innovations that are literally saving lives are being left underfunded and we are on a mission to change the ratio.”

By 2040, the world is expecting to spend $25 trillion per year on healthcare (World Economic Forum), a 150% increase since 2014. So in an effort to accelerate healthtech innovation, the Women Startup Challenge Europe HealthTech is aiming to foster a culture and economy that increases funding for women founders who are developing solutions to the biggest health challenges.

“We need investors to start funding more women-led healthtech startups. We can’t continue to solve healthcare problems around the world without engaging diverse backgrounds and experiences,” added Craig Newmark — the founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and a member of the Advisory Board for Women Who Tech.

Women Who Tech plans to deploy capital, resources, and mentoring to women-led healthtech startups that are working to improve lives and drive greater healthcare access by disrupting consumer health and wellness, grow the medical tech ecosystem, and foster innovative health solutions to people around the world.

“At Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, we deeply believe in the strength of community and diversity to empower innovation all over the world. 26% of JLABS companies have a woman lead, compared to less than 1% in life sciences industry. But there is more progress needed, especially in the areas of investment and fundraising. Therefore, supporting this challenge is an excellent way to move the needle in the right direction,” explained Fernandez Kleinlein.

Startups in Europe and the US must have at least one woman founder or co-founder and must also have a presence in Europe. The submission and criteria details can be found at the Women Startup Challenge Europe HealthTech 2019 website. And the applications close on August 1, 2019.

The Women Startup Challenge is one of the largest global programs with a pipeline of over 3,000 women-led startups. And the organization hosts thousands of women innovators around the world including New York, Silicon Valley, London (co-hosted by the Office of Mayor Sadiq Khan), and Paris (co-hosted by the Office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo).

One of the previous competition winners is Kiah Williams, who is the co-founder of SIRUM. “Since we took part we’ve attracted additional funding, expanded the team and increased our product offering,” said Williams via Forbes. “We went from a peer-to-peer marketplace and vertically integrated our software and service. We went from a Match.com to an Amazon for unused medicine, building tech to track medicine donation straight through.”

Featured image credit: WOCinTech Chat